Sometimes, I absolutely hate technology. Especially when I forget to bring my voice recorder to the pulpit with me, and I therefore forget to record my sermon! That’s what happened yesterday…so, I have a written summary of the message in place of an audio recording of the message:
What does God expect of me, in the local church. That’s what we will look at this week. It is an important message. I do believe that Jesus intends for each of His followers to be involved in a local congregation. The Lone Ranger Christian is not supported by what the Bible teaches us. We are meant to gather together, for we can do far more together than we can do singly. The passage I want to use for this week’s message is found in Romans 12:3-8…For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (ESV)
Serve As Jesus Served
We are each called to serve in a local church, and that service s to be done with the same attitude that Jesus had. Jesus was all about being a servant. In fact, that’s exactly what He stated about Himself (Matthew 20:28). The Apostle Paul described this attitude in detail in Philippians 2:5-8. Jesus didn’t hold onto His glory, He willingly set it aside. He didn’t just become a human, He became a human born into a very poor family. He even became a human that was destined to become a sacrifice for our sins.
All of this points to a sense of true humility. Humility isn’t thinking poorly about oneself, humility is not thinking about oneself at all! That’s the example of Jesus. That’s how we are to serve in our local church. That’s what Paul is saying in this passage in Romans, to not think too highly of oneself, but to look at ourselves with “sober judgment.” Looking at ourselves in the same way that Jesus looked at Himself…a willing servant.
Here’s another thing that we’re supposed to do, work together. Paul goes on after telling us to be humble, and reminds us that we are all part of one body. We may use denominational labels, but God doesn’t. We may use generational labels, but God doesn’t. We may use all kinds of labels to make distinctions, but God doesn’t. We all are part of one body in Christ. While we may have different functions, the main purpose remains the same. The only true purpose for the church is to support the work of spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ. Everything else is just gravy. We must accept our roles, accept our functions, and work together for the glory of God!
Doing What We Do Best
Once we figure out what our function is, we need to also see that God has done an amazing thing. He has given each of us gifts to use, and He expects us to use them! He has given us gifts as varied as we are. No two people are given the exact same set of gifts, God is an infinite Creator, and He endows each of His followers with gifts that are detailed and unique, fit for just that person. He places us into a local body of believers, and expects us to use the gifts He has distributed. The gifts are given according to the measure of God’s grace (we didn’t earn our spiritual gifts). We are to exercise these gifts as an act of faith, believing in God’s ability to use us as we use His gifts. To not use your spiritual gifts in a local church is to be guilty of (at the very least) the sin of pride.
We are designed to fit into a local congregation and we are fitted with just the right gifts so that each local congregation has everything it needs to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ. When we fail to use our gifts, the work has to be done by individuals who may not have the right gifts. God can still bless the work, but it isn’t being done as it could be done. May we each pray and seek God’s will; may we each do the work that God has called us to do and gifted us to do!